Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Swedish merchant fleet during World War 1

Some Swedish merchant ships were marked with a flag showing the Swedish colours

Neutral Sweden was not a participating nation in the World War 1, but still the country was in many ways affected by the war. Particularly, the Swedish merchant fleet was hit quite hard; during the war years it lost altogether 194 ships, 17% of its total tonnage. 

1918 map of submarine blockade zones
Almost all Swedish ship losses happened in the submarine zone (the German U-boat blockade zone) around the British Isles (mainly in the North Sea and the English Channel). No ship losses were recorded in the Baltic

Map of mine fields and other mined and dangerous areas in the Baltic
(published by Reichs Marine Amt, 1919)

Of the 194 ship losses 124 were caused by submarines, whereas 36 ships were lost because of mines. Altogether 437 Swedish sailors lost their life due to the war. 
German, Danish and Swedish mine fields in Øresund (1916)
A German U-boat holding up a Spanish steamer
The Swedish steamer Hispania had a white and red zebra painting, indicating that it was entitled to sail through the  U-boat zone when departing the UK. 
Workers inspecting damage caused by a mine on the Swedish steamer Thyra in April 1919
In July 1917 the Swedish steamer Vanland was hit by a torpedo
In March 1916 the steamer Martha hit a mine field close to the Falsterbo reef, but could be towed to Malmö
Of course the Swedish losses were rather modest when compared to the losses suffered by the warfaring nations. Britain e.g. lost 2475 merchant ships and 670 fishing boats, and 15 000 British sailors lost their life during World War 1. 

(Source: Article by Axel Lindblad in the book Sveriges Sjöfart, published in 1921)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Images of Copenhagen in the late 19th century

Copenhagen was a bustling city already in the last decades of the 19t century (although the number of bikers was considerably smaller than now!):

A photo of central Copenhagen in the early 1890s
Copenhagen has always been a major port city (drawing from the 1850s)
A view of the then new Copenhagen built around one of the artificial lakes which  previousley were  part of the city´s fortifications
The Børsen building in the background served as stock exchange from 1620 to 1974
The Rosenborg castle in central Copenhagen was built in 1605 as a Royal summer  residence
The Royal Theatre, built in the 1770s
The Svanemølle mill was in the 1890s a wellknown landmark in Copenhagen
Another view of maritime Copenhagen

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Historic battles in Øresund

Øresund has not always been the peaceful shipping lane that it is now. In earlier centuries, battles - particularly between the neighbours Denmark and Sweden - were common. The winning side often asked leading marine artists to immortalize the victories:

Anton Melbye´s oil painting is part of the collections of Statens Museum for Kunst, the Danish National Gallery

This painting by the 19th century Danish marine artist Anton Melbye (1818 - 1875) depicts the Battle of Køge Bay on July 1, 1677. It is recognized as Denmark´s greatest naval victory ever: 

After losing control of the Baltic Sea in the Battle of Öland the year before, the Swedish navy wanted it back. The Danish fleet, commanded by Niels Juel, had 1,354 cannons and 6,700 men, while the Swedish fleet, commanded by Henrik Horn, had +1,792 cannons and 9,200 men.

On 1 July at daybreak, despite some of his ships having fallen behind, Juel closed, as did the Swedes, and fighting began at about 5am. Horn sent in fireships but the Danes towed them aside. As the fleets approached the coast near Stevn's Point, Juel bore away a little in the hope that the Swedes would try to stay to windward and run aground.
In the early afternoon the wind changed, as Juel had anticipated, and utilising this, the Danish fleet broke the Swedish line by crossing the T, thus isolating several major warships. This was the turning point of the battle, which soon turned into a complete rout.
The Swedes lost eight war ships, several smaller ships and about 3,000 men. The Danish fleet did not lose any ships, only damages on the ships and approximately 100 men were killed and 275 wounded.

This etching by Erik Dahlberg (1625–1702) shows the Battle of the Sound between the Swedish and Dutch fleets on October 29, 1658. 

This is Dahlberg´s interpretation of the Swedish conquest of the Kronborg castle on September 7, 1658. 

A mixed bag

Here are four shots from yesterday evening:

This is the car carrier Elbe Highway passing Helsingør at about six A.M. on its way from St. Petersburg to Zeebrügge.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Sound, these Seagulls were looking for  something edible.
This gull was maybe waiting for a tasty fish to fly into its mouth ....
I like the well maintained gardens in my neighbourhood.